Honor in Concord: Seeking Spirit in Literary Concord
by Cathryn McIntyre
If you enjoyed Little Women and are charmed by the magic of the mid-19th century Concord that Louisa May Alcott lived in and wrote about, you might like to read Cathryn McIntyre’s first book, Honor in Concord.
It is a memoir about the first year she lived in Concord, Massachusetts in an antique home she calls “Quiet House” on a street named for Henry David Thoreau. She had always been drawn to Concord, referring to it in Honor in Concord as “the place that in my soul I had always known”. Years later she will learn why she was drawn there but at this time she struggles to understand what she is doing in this sleepy old town and to better understand herself and her psychic abilities.
One day she sets out to record the images of Concord’s past that are always on her mind and what results is a fictional story that she tells within the pages of memoir in which the writers of mid-19th century Concord (i.e. Hawthorne, Emerson, Thoreau, Fuller and Alcott) are characters living new lives in Concord in present day. Within the fictional story are windows that open up into their lives in the past. One moment we are reading about Julie, a mother watching her young daughter performing at her dance recital and the next we see Julie in the past as Sophia Hawthorne, looking out into the yard as this daughter and her other children run about in play. We read about Sarah who is having a flirtatious lunch at the West Street Grill in Boston and walking across the same floor where she once stood as Margaret Fuller conducting her “conversations”.
These are delicious moments, beautifully written that capture the magic of this town that holds such a place in American history. It is the place where the revolutionary war began out near the North Bridge and the place where some of America’s greatest writers and thinkers once lived as neighbors and friends in the mid-19th century.
In Honor in Concord, they are back in present day Concord. Julie is Sophia and her husband, Richard, is Hawthorne. He is strong and tall and as handsome as ever but a lawyer now who still writes when he can but is no longer interested in sharing his words with the world. Thoreau is also there as their son, Alex, a bright, independent, but thoughtful young man, preparing for graduation from high school and being pressured to choose a college far away from Concord, the town he so loves. His best friend, John, is the brother he lost in his life as Thoreau, now they are together again. Emerson is there, too, as Julie’s wise but aged father, and this time he is spending his life with Ellen Tucker, his first wife from his life in the past. Bronson Alcott has also returned as a wise old sage in the form of Richard’s neighbor and best friend, Ed, who seems to be the most insightful of them all in this scenario where they find themselves reevaluating their lives and questioning the choices they have made.
The honor in Honor in Concord is in learning to honor ourselves and to trust in our own ability to connect with what Thoreau called the divine. That message is expanded upon in The Thoreau Whisperer as the author’s story resumes six years after the moment atop Author’s Ridge at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord that concludes Honor in Concord. McIntyre is there attempting to connect psychically with the authors who are buried there, but where that scene in Honor in Concord is mostly playful, in The Thoreau Whisperer, she is actually doing it and it is serious and powerful and impossible even for her to believe.
Note: The Thoreau Whisperer is in some ways a sequel to Honor in Concord but it is not necessary to read Honor in Concord first. Honor in Concord is available in both hard and softcover editions from Barnes & Noble; amazon; and other internet booksellers. It can also be ordered through your favorite local bookseller. It is not currently available as an e-book.
Reading Honor in Concord was intellectually stimulating, but also as pleasurable as eating chocolate and drinking a fine red wine. In fact, each evening I climbed into bed with a glass of good wine and escaped from my daily concerns and my own writer worries. I was able to turn off the editor in me and engage myself in this novel because the prose is natural, alive, and believable. The Transcendental Period is my favorite time in American history and Cathryn captured the heartbeat of some of my favorite writers of long ago Concord and gently, but powerfully, revealed their touch upon the present. Combining memoir, fiction, and the historical facts of the writers from Concord was innovative and daring. And it worked! Memoirs can oftentimes bog down the reader with too many intimate facts, but there was just enough candid and pivotal information to keep me interested, leaving some mystery for me to ponder. The interconnectedness of Concord's writers of the past with contemporary fictional Concord residents, and Cathryn McIntyre as a writer and seeker in Concord, created an enjoyable and satisfying reading experience. There was indeed transcendence and beauty in the quest for what might be honorable today. If we listen, these writers of the past can help us with honorable choices today. And if we listen, perhaps Cathryn McIntyre will have more to say to us, as well. - Cynthia G. Neale, Author of Norah: The Making of an Irish-American Woman in 19th-Century New York and other works www.cynthianeale.com
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In Honor in Concord, Cathryn McIntyre weaves a multi-faceted tale of Transcendental truths, explored and experienced then (19th Century) and now (21st Century). Is it the place itself (Concord) that engenders such insights? Is the veil between dimensions, between illusion and Spirit thinner there? What is real? What is fantasy? Ms. McIntyre challenges all our preconceived notions and gives permission for each of us to explore the expanded reality we know somehow IS. Through the emotions, thoughts and challenges of the characters, real and fictitious, as well as those of the author herself, we witness the evolution of the human condition as the profound ideas of Emerson, Thoreau, Alcott and Hawthorne become a basis for action. - Connie Baxter Marlow, filmmaker, author, futurist, social philosopher. Producer: IN SEARCH OF THE FUTURE www.InSearchofTheFutureMovie.com; THE AMERICAN EVOLUTION: Voices of America-www.TheAmericanEvolution.com Co-Author: THE TRUST FREQUENCY: 10 Assumptions for a New Paradigm. www.TheTrustFrequency.net
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Honor in Concord is a compelling, entertaining and provocative read. The past and the present are woven together so uniquely giving life to the issues and subjects too often left to collect dust on library shelves.
~ Janis Pryor, Author, Producer & Radio Host
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Honor in Concord is beautifully written...time transcends as the story begins from long ago when Thoreau, Emerson and Hawthorne knew the spiritual essence of who they were and not intimidated to speak about it... the story weaves to the present and the excitement is in the comparison of the families from one century to another - could it be that Thoreau and Hawthorne are really living in today's world? This book crosses the boundaries of the literary into the spiritual in the most glorious way. A must read - can't wait for the next book!! – ~ Deborah Beauvais, Dreamvisions 7 Radio Network – www.dreamvisions7radio.com, www.lovebyintuition.com
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An enjoyable read - the author skillfully weaves historical fact with fiction and provides wonderful insight into the private lives of some of Concord's most famous literary authors. After reading this book, I wanted to learn more about the historical figures mentioned, especially Margaret Fuller and Martha Hunt. - Jennie Sandberg, Artist, Photographer, Intuitive Energy Healer
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